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History Of Sparta Education And The Expectations Of A Professional Teacher

EDU 111 – HISTORY OF EDUCATION  (AKSCOE- AFAHA NSIT)

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INTRODUCTION

To appreciate the current educational development and plan better for the future requires studying of the past. History of education anchors this relevance in our tertiary institutions (Teacher Education Programmes). Since education is a cultural activity of the people, it means that every cultural system has its own education process. The yardstick for measuring quality and standard varies from culture to culture.

Unfortunately, some early critics on Nigerian education were of the opinion that there was no education among the people before the introduction of Arabic and Western-Styled education.

Modern education is traced to the Greek city-states of Sparta and Athens where the present alphabet was in regular use in the 7th century B.C. Sparta developed a model of education with an emphasis on the practical learning of the art of war for the defence of the State. Included in the curriculum were physical exercises of running, jumping, throwing and skills of stealth, patience, endurance, deception etc. This kind of education became known as pragmatic education because it placed emphasis on skilled learning and utility.

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The Concept of Sparta Education

Education in Sparta was completely different. The purpose of education in Sparta was to produce and maintain a powerful army. Sparta boys entered military school when they were about six years old. They learned how to read and write, but those skills were not considered very important except for messages. Military school was tough, on purpose. The boys were often hungry. They were often beaten. They slept away from home, in the barracks, with the men. If they cried, they were beaten, sometimes by their own parents. They were taught how to steal and lie and get away with it. These skills could save their life someday. Nearly everything in the Spartan educational system was about war and battle.

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Spartan girls went to school to learn to be warriors. Their school was not as brutal, but all girls in ancient Sparta could wrestle and fist fight and handle a weapon. They were taught how to kill. The Spartans believed that strong women produced strong babies. Besides, the women might have to defend the city if the men were away at war. No great works of art came out of Sparta. But most of the other Greek city-states wanted Sparta on their side. The Spartans were great friends to have in times of war.

 The Purpose of Sparta Education

The primary purpose of Spartan education, and indeed of Spartan society as a whole, differed greatly from that of the Athenians. The primary goal of Spartan education was to produce good soldiers. Training for the military began at age 7, as all Spartan boys left home to go to military school. From then until the time they were 18, they were subject to harsh training and discipline. Historical accounts tell of Spartan boys as being allowed no shoes, very few clothes, and being taught to take pride in enduring pain and hardship.

Throughout their adolescent and teenage years, Spartan boys were required to become proficient in all manner of military activities. They were taught boxing, swimming, wrestling, javelin-throwing, and discus-throwing. They were trained to harden themselves to the elements. At the age of 18, Spartan boys had to go out into the world and steal their food. Getting caught would result in harsh punishment, including flogging, which was usually a practice reserved only for slaves. The concept was that a soldier must learn stealth and cunning.

At age 20, Spartan men had to pass a series of demanding tests of physical prowess and leadership abilities. Those that passed became members of the Spartan military and lived in barracks with the other soldiers. They were allowed to take a wife, but they weren’t allowed to live with her. At age 30, they became full citizens of Sparta, provided they had served honorably. They were required to continue serving the military, however, until age 60.

Unlike their Athenian counterparts, Spartan girls also went to school at age seven. There they learned gymnastics, wrestling, and did calisthenics. These schools were similar in many ways to the schools Spartan boys attended, as it was the Spartan opinion that strong women produced strong babies, which would then grow into strong soldiers to serve the state.

Somewhat ironically, women in Sparta had much more independence than women in other city-states, partially because their husbands never lived at home, and partially because Spartans had tremendous respect for Spartan mothers.

While no marvelous works of art or literature ever came of this system, it did accomplish the Spartan goal of producing elite soldiers. The Spartan military was universally disliked, but they were also universally respected.

SPARTA EDUCATION AND THE EXPECTATIONS OF A PROFESSIONAL TEACHER

The Spartan king Agesilaus once said that what matters in education is that children must learn the skills they will use when they grow up, and that saying has been constantly quoted by education experts from his day to ours. Its fame, however, comes not only from the fact that it seems intuitively true but also from the fact that no known education system seems to follow it.

In Sparta, the purpose of education was that men and women could protect the city-state and defend themselves. A baby would be left on a hillside to die if it did not appear healthy and strong. Two things that Spartans valued were discipline and strength. At the age of seven, Spartan boys were sent to live in buildings called barracks. There they were trained to read and write. Although the girls did not go to barracks, they received some military training as well. They learned wrestling, boxing, foot-racing, and gymnastics.

Spartans were taught to lie, cheat and steal but not get caught. One legend tells of a boy who stole a fox as he was famished. As the boy’s teacher came, the boy quickly hid the box under his shirt. Instead of confessing, he let the fox bite into his stomach.

At the age of twenty, the Spartan men were given a very hard test on fitness, military ability, and leadership skills. If they passed, they became soldiers of Sparta and full citizens. They continued to live in the barracks. There, they ate, slept and trained with their classmates. A man could start living with his family once he was thirty years old.

Therefore, as a professional teacher, to appreciate the current educational development and plan better for the future requires studying of the past. History of education anchors this relevance in our tertiary institutions (Teacher Education Programmes). Thus, the expectation of every professional teacher is; since education is a cultural activity of the people, it means that every cultural system has its own education process. The yardstick for measuring quality and standard varies from culture to culture.

 ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SPARTA EDUCATION

Advantages

  • The Spartiate was considered a fierce and brutal warrior, excellent in physique, un-yielding in dedication, unmatched in combat, and constantly willing to die for Sparta.
  • An unflinching warrior ethos that fueled an entire city’s dedication to fielding exceptional soldiers.
  • A sort of name brand recognition that helped them defeat more numerous, but less martial foes. This came into play a lot considering most Greek city states fielded conscript armies made up of citizens fulfilling a certain length of time in the army of their city.
  • It can be argued their austere way of life was superior to the more ‘decadent’ climate of Athens and its unruly form of early democracy.
  • Men were taught, through the agoge (education system) harsh training and self-reliance that would later be necessary when they began their lives as an adult Spartiate. The purpose of training for women was to produce virile and healthy offspring for the defence of the state both against internal and external threats.

Disadvantages

There were many parts of a normal education that were not included in Spartan education. These include:
– mathematics
– reading and writing (more than basic levels)
– science
– and all other education topics of the time

 CONCLUSION

Spartans believed in a life of ‘discipline, self-denial, and simplicity,’ and so the purpose of education was, simply, to produce an army. It was ‘survival of the fittest’ in Ancient Sparta. Male Spartan children were sent to military school at the age of six or seven. Except for the city-state of Sparta, Greek girls did not go to school. They were taught at home by their mothers. If their mother could read and write, they taught their girls how to do the same, as well as teaching them how to cook and sew and run a household.

Note: If the content of this material is useful for your academic work(s), feel free to contact us anytime for your assignments and term papers (any topic). @ Sir Pee Integrated Services – #3 College Road, Afaha Nsit – Phone: 07068634102

For complete project materials and assignments call us with 07068634102

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